Politico: Orbán may agree to support Ukraine if EU does not transfer €50 billion aid in one package

January 09. 2024. – 10:09 AM



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Hungary may lift its veto on the €50 billion EU aid to Ukraine, provided that the assistance is reviewed every year, Politico's newsletter writes.

The European Commission proposed increasing the EU budget for the 2021-2027 period by €66 billion in additional payments last June. €17 billion of this amount, along with a €33 billion in loans would be used to provide continued support to Ukraine. Part of the remaining funds would cover the EU's interest costs, which have risen amid the uncertainty caused by the Russian invasion, and some would be used for new purposes. The Hungarian government was quick to attack the proposal, citing a variety of distortions, and at the EU summit in December, Viktor Orbán vetoed the €50 billion aid package intended for supporting Ukraine's budget over the next four years.

Politico quotes three EU diplomats as saying that the Hungarian government might be willing to lift its veto if the European Council reviews the decision annually and the funding is approved unanimously. In practice, this would mean that Ukraine would receive the funds in annual installments of €12.5 billion, and the Hungarian government would have the opportunity to blackmail the EU with a veto every year. In other words, Viktor Orbán would have the option of blocking the EU funding for Ukraine every year, or of getting concessions from Brussels in exchange for withholding his veto.

Politico notes that although this is not the first time Hungary has floated the idea, it is a significant step back from Viktor Orbán's rhetoric in recent weeks, when he has vehemently opposed granting any aid to Ukraine from the EU budget. However, several EU diplomats remain skeptical about the idea, arguing that approval on a year-by-year basis would not ensure predictability for Ukraine.

Russia expert András Rácz told Telex: "Orbán's veto within the EU is weak, and circumventing it is ultimately possible. If Hungary were to again use its right to veto at the upcoming EU summit in February, then an intergovernmental agreement could be put into effect right away." This is more complicated and more expensive due to higher interest rates, but it is feasible, so Rácz does not feel that the EU's financial support of Ukraine is at risk. Hungary can only effectively veto the half a billion euros from the European Peace Facility. But the bigger package – where a Hungarian veto can be avoided – could be as much as €50 billion (over four years) in both military and financial aid.

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